On fire: Flames shoot more than 20 metres into the air as homes in Brownell Drive at Wategos Beach are burnt to the ground. Police evacuated residents from surrounding homes as the blaze took hold.
On fire: Flames shoot more than 20 metres into the air as homes in Brownell Drive at Wategos Beach are burnt to the ground. Police evacuated residents from surrounding homes as the blaze took hold. Jonny Dalgleish

Homes destroyed in minutes by fire

FIREFIGHTERS were involved in a massive battle late last night to contain a blaze that destroyed at least two multi-million properties at Wategos Beach near Byron Bay.

At the time of going to press, more than a dozen fire fighters were desperately trying to contain the inferno from spreading to even more homes around Brownell Drive

The centre of Wategos Beach’s residential neighbourhood was consumed by a bright orange glow that lit up the night sky last night, as flames leapt about 20 metres into the air above the timber properties taken by the blaze.

While the full extent of the damage will not be confirmed until today, eye witnesses said at least two properties had been lost to the fire.

Initial witness reports also said there was no one in either home at the time of the blaze.

“It’s crazy here, it’s like an inferno. Million dollars houses are just burning to the crowd,” said witness Jonny Dalgeleish, who sent these graphic photographs to The Northern Star.

Byron Bay Inspector Greg Carey said police were alerted to the fire at about 7pm after neighbours observed flames from the first premise on Brown Hill Drive.

“The fire seed took hold very quickly,” he said.

Fire trucks from Bryon, Bangalow and Brunswick Heads descended on the scene, as police executed nearby homes. There were no injuries.

Fire officials were unable to comment on the extent of the damage last night, as they focused their attention on getting the fire under control.

However, it is believed firefighters had brought the blaze at the first home under control when embers set alight to the roof of the second house.

It is believed the fire began at approximately 7pm last night.

Sometime after 9pm, an adjacent home also caught fire.

Several fire crews surrounded the homes, trying to extinguish the blaze from positions in Pandaus Lane and Brownell Drive.

Brownell Drive was closed to traffic as fire trucks took up the tight road that weaves along the top of Wategos in an effort to control the fire, while thick smoke choked the air.

Two witnesses staying in a home adjacent to the first property to catch fire, said they heard a cracking noise from inside where they were staying.

“It was like plates breaking; like someone was ransacking a kitchen,” a woman said.

Her husband said by the time they got outside to inquire about the noise, the neighbouring property was fully ablaze.

“By the time we got outside it was in full swing,” he said.

“We came out and the windows were blowing out.”

Both properties are believed to be holiday rentals, with the second one owned by a person from Melbourne.

It is understood tourists had been staying in the first home, but had left earlier in the afternoon.

It was not immediately known if any one was staying in the second property.

Insp Carey of Byron Bay police said crime scene detectives will inspect the site today.



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